Fresh air and feasting at Wimpole Estate

myvolunteering correspondent, East of England

Anne Johnson - myvolunteering correspondent

Anne Johnson talks about the festive activities that volunteers have been working on at Wimpole Estate.

In the past few years Wimpole Estate has moved away from the traditional Victorian Christmas. Instead natural resources from the Estate have been incorporated into the decorations and a liberal sprinkling of white is seen in the white paper fir trees in the Entrance Hall.

The children can enjoy walking through a white forest – a bit like Narnia and emerging into a room to delight the children with stockings hanging over the fireplace, games and a large lightbox for creating a silhouette puppet show and large candy lollipops and sweets.

Volunteer putting together Christmas decorations
Volunteer putting together Christmas decorations

A decorations workshop was setup in the Old Laundry Room. Natural wood has been used to create a stunning display in the Grand Dining Room – with a wooden display stand for the fruit and wooden placemats.  In the stairwell a Christmas Village is displayed on tree offcuts giving the impression of a mountain setting.

Those who ventured into the basement were met with the aroma of lavender for lavender bags, oranges and cloves for the pomanders workshop and icing gingerbread men to be eaten sooner or later! All run by volunteers.

After all that hard work – time for a visit to the Butler’s Room, where the butler served a small toddy of punch for the adults and lemonade for the children.

As I walked through the reindeer trail I visited the wish tree where I took a ribbon, made a wish and tied it to the tree. I was reminded of Dave the volunteer who uses his woodwork skills to create the wish tree and helped to make the reindeer who are hiding along the trail. Work began in November!

Craft activities were run in the gardens last year from a tent which volunteers found a little chilly. This year a Craft Cottage has been set up in what was originally the head gardener’s house.

Entry to the cottage Is through a small, low door - which is reminiscent of a Wendy House. The rooms have low ceilings and are very cosy. Children can enjoy storytelling and crafts run by volunteers happy to be in a warm place this year!  Plenty of choice from Button wreaths, paper baubles, pinecone reindeer, paper angels and foam decorations to take home. Beeswax candles on the Farm.

I was drawn to the Stable Block by the sound of the brass band playing - and discovered an enticing range of food stalls – chutneys, oils and fudge. Time to head home after an absorbing afternoon of festive sounds, displays, activities and seasonal food.

Anne Johnson, myvolunteering correspondent

Anne is in her third season volunteering as a room guide at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. She enjoys learning about the room collections and the families who lived there in the past.